Wednesday, November 25, 2009
It always seemed to me that the most powerful fictional characters would not be determined by their strength, wealth, or intelligence – but rather, by their ability to realize they were fictional.
For what good is everything else if you are not aware of your own fictionality, of the true nature of your very existence?
In this sense, a character like Deadpool's exemplary physical durability is really just a metaphor for his enlightenment as to the fact that he is a fictional character. Fictional characters can be chopped up, burnt, exploded, decapitated, what have you – but they cannot truly die, as long as there is at least one person existing who can keep creating stories (official or otherwise) about them.
Deadpool represents the first card of the Tarot deck – techincally the first card, but not the card labelled "1." No, the first card, The Fool, is a "0." The Fool is off the grid. The grid being interpreted as Maya, as the delusional/fictional reality. Or: the grid as comic book grid, as a sequence of panels on the page.
Thus, Deadpool plays the part of Fool, but he just might be, due to his self-awareness, the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe.
Similarly, the entity known as Superboy/Superboy Prime/Superman Prime is by far one of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe (though Animal Man, by virtue of his close collaboration with Grant Morrison, comes in a close second, I think).
Of course, The Super Prime Entity is insane, which shows the inherent danger in this entire game. He took things too seriously. He devolved into insanity. Whereas Deadpool protects himself by insanity & foolishness being his initial starting point. The Super Prime Entity needs to know it all, hence his obsessive trolling of message boards, what have you (which would really drive anyone insane)...
...on the other hand, Wade Wilson, like any of the Fool/Trickster archetype – Heyoka, Coyote, Loki, Eshu, Bugs Bunny – seemingly knows nothing, and only is interested in jokes and tricks. Deadpool is an idiot – and yet he has achieved contact with the world outside the boundaries of the grid. Deadpool has achieved enlightenment but wears the cloak of insanity/foolishness in order to process it. Whereas the Super Prime Entity is a know-it-all douchebag with no sense of humor.
As an interesting side-note, the traditional colors of the Yoruban Fool/Trickster god Eshu are red and black, as is of course Deadpool's costume.
Now, you might have experienced a certain "tingle" at those moments in fiction when the character turns around and acknowledges you. There is the famous scene in Animal Man, of course, where Buddy Baker turns to the world outside the panel and freaks out, locking eyes with yours. Or how about when Ferris Bueller (another Fool/Trickster archetype) addresses you throughout the course of his movie? In these instances, something truly special is taking place – you and the fictional character are "having a moment." There is a real interface that takes place, if only for those few seconds of contact. Yes, just like in the A-Ha video.
It is not coincidence that the two comic book writers who have most explicitly discussed these matters in their work, Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, have both practiced magick. They are shamans using the tool of the comic book quite literally and purposefully as part of a mystic working stretching/expanding our conceptions of fiction & reality. They are not merely gently touching the invisible barrier between reader and read – they are like the Super Prime Entity smashing that last wall, "punching time."
The sequence of panels in my old blog banner used to bother me. If we read the three panels in the standard Western way, from left to right, it seems that "I" (Occasional Superheroine) start as as pencil drawing, get color and ink dropped in, and then become a photograph of a real person. Whereas the way it really happened, of course, is that it started with a photograph given to an artist, penciled, and then ink/color dropped in. Though ACTUALLY, it started with me (real me) taking the photograph, then photograph itself, then pencils, then color/ink, then scan/digitization.
But then again, even that woman in the photograph no longer quite exists. Her hair is different. She's older. Her thoughts have developed. A good number of her cells have died and been replaced. The photographs, her writings, her memories, and the memories of others are the only real touchstones that this particular version even existed at all. We can't go back and find this 2007 me, physically point to her, and use her as some sort of hard evidence for the fact that she actually existed. All we have are memories and various media.
It is said that to our subconscious, fantasy & reality look pretty much the same. That a dream vividly experienced registers in the subconscious the same as a "real" event. How does our brains, then, process the fictional? In the grand matrix of our minds, where are the adventures of Deadpool, the Super Primes, etc. stored, and how are they regarded? They are filed away with our memories of real life events. Memories and media, anecdotes and images, recollections and typed words transfered into thought – it's all in the same file cabinet.
All we have is This Moment. And if "this moment" happens to be you curling up with your favorite movie or comic book – in that pinpoint of a moment, it is all real. In that pinpoint of a moment, Ferris Bueller is really locking eyes with you and addressing you, playing the part of Heyokah, playing the part of the Fool, playing the part of Bugs Bunny, trying to make you understand not just the nature of his world but your own. And trying to do it with a degree of good humor, frosting it with sillyness and humor, so as for your tender minds not to be completely blown.
Of course, I'm probably full of shit.